Culture of science smorgasbord

Female scientist holding test tube (photo credit: Ambro). It’s pink, obviously. (Actually I do routinely use test tubes full of highly corrosive pink phenol.) 

There have been some interesting things happening on the culture of bioscience front recently.  

Bioscience career prospect angst

The NIH released findings from the Future Biomedical Research Workforce. This document is 32 pages long but interesting reading for those of us in the trenches and for people who want to see what bioscientists think about their jobs. The group identified eight issues that negatively influence bioscience careers. These include the balance between supply of US and foreign PhDs and demand (career opportunities), the length of postdoc training, lack of training for non-academic career paths, and the overall (un)attractiveness of biomedical research careers. Unfortunately, most of the proposed solutions would be difficult to implement as they involve either dramatically increasing NIH funding and/or a large restructuring of the current system (ex. producing fewer PhDs). 

2011 NIH funding stats

This post summarizes some stats from the NIH’s 2011 fiscal year. It contains some good news: new and old investigators were equally funded as were male and female investigators.  But there’s some not so great news too. Only 29% of NIH funded investigators were women and the overall funding success rate fell to a dismal 18%. 

Boycott of Elsevier journals

A growing number of scientists have signed a petition stating that they refuse to submit and/or review articles for Elsevier publications (including prestigious journals like The Lancet, Cell, and Neuron). This post in the Chronicle describes how Timothy Gowers, a Fields medal winner from the University of Cambridge, initiated the boycott due to concerns about the cost and bundling of Elsevier’s journal subscriptions and the publisher’s support of the Research Works Act. If passed, this bill would end the NIH’s Public Access Policy, preventing the public from accessing the results of taxpayer funded research if the publishers aren’t amenable.  Will this be the spark that fully ignites the open science movement?

Bioscience grad students say what?

This video is fun but also scarily accurate.  If you like this, you’ll probably like the oldie but goodie Lady Gaga science parody, Bad Project


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